Jul 27

Fair, foul and fowl

by in Week 6

 

  • Baraboo to Plymouth, WI
  • 74 miles (2854 total)
  • Weather!
  • Feathers
  • Almost out of Wisconsin

Sometimes you just have to push your luck. It would be safer to, say, sleep in the school hallways. But where is the adventure in that? We opted to stay in our tent even though the afternoon thunderstorm had threatened to wash it away. I dried it out before dinner and restaked it properly so I was feeling confident. More so because there was only a 20% chance of isolated thundershowers.

I guess I should have bought a lottery ticket. We cashed in on the showers. We got hit by 4 distinct showers last night. Our tent came through with flying colors. There was only a little dampness around the edges when we got up. We had to pack it wet and hope to dry it out in the afternoon. In the meantime we had a beautiful morning of riding. It wasn’t hot, only 70° or so. The terrain was very tandem friendly with good rollers. We were cruising around 20 mph much of the time.

At mile 21 we got our big treat. We entered Horticon National Wildlife Refuge. Our birding friends would have loved it. (Dianne and Sooz, I mean youse.) There was a 3 mile loop to ride and in the quiet of the morning it was a magical marshland. There was a floating boardwalk which extended out into the marsh so you could get a bird’s eye view of the wildlife. (As long as the bird in question was a duck sitting on the water.) We saw yellow headed black birds, egrets, geese, pelicans, swallows, sand pipers, red winged blackbirds, cedar waxwings. It was great. The swallows perched on the walkway and posed for us. A turtle sat next to a Canada goose. It was extremely peaceful to be out among the animals there.

After that we had some challenging riding. Hills with grades higher than 11% are common here. Usually they don’t last long, but they can present ugly surprises when you come upon them. One series had 1,000′ long, steep climbs separated by equally steep downs. You’d get to the bottom and the next hill looked like Mt. Everest. We had to do our best riding, carrying lots of speed into the hills, then shifting into manageable gears for the steep pitch. We thought they’d never end.

When they did, we were in a huge wind farm. About that time we noticed the very black clouds forming to the northwest. We were headed mostly northeast, but they were gaining on us. Now we had a mission, get to picnic before the sky opened. We went full throttle for half an hour, sweating when our road turned north, then cheering when we turned east athwart the line of clouds. At one point we felt a few drops of rain but quickly pulled ahead of the front. The winds get very swirly near the front line. We got into picnic, which included a huge covered pavilion, just 10 minutes ahead of the storm.

It ended and our native midwesterners said it was safe to head out. We did. Within 5 miles the skies opened up again. We pulled on our wind jackets which immediately soaked through. We’d left all our raingear behind because we’d carried it all needlessly the day before. Nothing to do but power through the storm. Which is what we did. In 20 minutes it dried up. We could now see the scenic route we were following, Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. The whole day was very pretty riding. Many of the roads were lined with blue chicory.

Thirty minutes after we got to the school, the skies opened up yet again. It was one of those how much rain can we get out of the sky in how little time kind of rains. I’d been drying out our stuff and barely had time to get it all indoors before the big drops started falling. It is so nice to be have the option to be protected from the foul weather.

And finally, the answer to yesterday’s photo quiz was correctly answered by Richard, Phil, and Wendy. It is indeed a corn crib. They used to be used to store corn on the cob for livestock feed. Now machines get the corn off the cobs in the field leaving the cobs behind. So these are rarely seen in use anymore. The ones shown here were the first occupied corn cribs we’ve seen. Thanks for playing.

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